Despite its title, Keeping My Kidneys has very little to do with actual kidneys and everything to do with how we interact with the people we choose to love. It’s also a very funny and sometimes heat-warming hour-long exploration into the (love)life of writer, comedian, and actress Mindy Raf. The show played as part of the East to Edinburgh series at 59E59 Theaters.
While visiting her mother’s deathbed, Mindy makes a promise that she will one day get married. What happens between then and now is a story of modern love, not only how people relate to their partners, but how they, as partners, relate to everyone else. To explain further would take some of the surprise away from the wonderfully constructed script, which navigates a dozen digressions that seem beside the point but are, in fact, entirely the point.
Like any good comedic performance, Raf’s conversational style can feel off-the-cuff at moments. It’s clear, though, she has clearly paid careful attention to how the show is structured, ensuring a smooth but winding path. It may not seem that way with each new aside, but every departure eventually finds its way somehow back to the core story. She tells the bones of it — a phone call, a concerned friend, something she might not want to know — with solemnity, building the audience’s empathy. Then she counters all of that seriousness, tearing up the audience with those hilarious R-rated digressions. And she certainly doesn’t shy away from other parts of the body. There are magical vaginas, vagina mugs, zombie vaginas… Okay, she mostly talks about vaginas, but it’s with love and admiration. Vaginas are great and everyone should know it. Her cast of characters certainly do.
Mindy Raf isn’t afraid of charging into potentially uncomfortable subjects head-on, especially those having to do with sex, sexuality, and her personal experience with both. The only other person from her past who gets any significant stage time is her mother, who loved her but was also culpable for some of Mindy’s most significant childhood sex-based confusion. It’s the origin of the title Keeping My Kidneys. And it’s so very relatable. (It’s the sort of thing everyone has experienced, and if they claim they didn’t they’re lying.) She’s all lovable neuroses, but a challenging and engaging storyteller. From the first moments, as she’s making purposeful eye contact with the audience, it’s If there are moments that fall flat, they’re only those in which Raf breaks from the story to acknowledge stage anxiety. And even then her release-valve antics are funny enough to bring some laughs.
The audiences in Edinburgh are sure to be just as open-minded as those in New York (maybe more so), and while it’s not going to be a show for everyone, it’s fabulous for those who are open to it. Much like thruples. But Mindy can tell you about that. The people of Edinburgh are in for a treat.